I was barely twenty one the first time I went to Jamaica. It was the late 80’s and I laughed the first time I heard the words jerk chicken. I mean there’s a million funny things you can do with that term!
But then I tasted it.
Ever since then, even at home in Connecticut, jerk has been a flavor in our spice cabinets and condiments collections. I’ve had it hot. I’ve had it mild. I’ve had it sweet. I’ve had it on chicken, pork, shrimp, and steak. I’ve had it grilled, smoked, and sometimes I pour it right out of the bottle on rice or potatoes or just about anything.
I’ve been back to the island many times throughout my life, and always always always make sure to stop in at Scotchie’s for the most-legit jerk cuisine on the planet.
I also prefer to vacation at Half Moon Resort (thanks to my good friend, Jimmy Kohn) and love love love to get a jerk meal at Moonchie’s on the beach. In fact that’s where we filmed one of our first-ever Wingaddicts episodes last year.
This week, I’ve decided to pay some homage to the places we’ve enjoyed jerk wings since starting up Wingaddicts 15 months ago. To be clear, many of the restaurants we visited had jerk wings on their menu. These just happen to be the places where we ordered them (in alphabetical order). Oh dear God, I’m drooling already. Click on the restaurant name for its official website. Click on the photo to link to our Wingaddicts episode on YouTube (and subscribe!)
The Blackboard Cafe in Windsor Locks: Just look at these wings. This was a dry rub with lots and lots of seasoning. A very classic and flavorful jerk dry rub and cooked to perfection.
Buffalo Wild Wings: Yep. Went there. Come on, its our job. This jerk wing was wet and sticky seasoning, sweet with some real heat on the back end. It was actually very good.
Caribbean Kitchen in Waterbury: This is one of only two actual “Jamaican” spots where we enjoyed jerk wings. We also ordered jerk chicken, which is cooked in the traditional jerk style (whole chickens). The wings were done separately and then coated with a tasty jerk wet sauce. As in Jamaica, wings aren’t really a priority. But they are good nonetheless. To be clear, the jerk chicken itself was ridiculous! (In a good way)
CJ Sparrow in Cheshire: It’s hard to remember where you ate your favorite wings (when you’ve had over 6,000) but every single time I think of CJ’s I think of these jerk wings. They offer both a wet and a dry jerk, and this was a (special request) combination of both. Herbs and spices, lime, a little sweet and a little heat. It was everything you want in a jerk wing.
Daveluy’s in Watertown: Doni and I were on our own for this adventure and ordered seven flavors. SO blown away by them all, we tried the jerk wings last. They’re a spicy dry rub, juicy in the middle and crunchy as hell on the outside. Not breaded, but almost like Jamaican fried chicken.
Dew Drop Inn in Derby: Again, we ordered these during a gluttonous feeding frenzy which always occurs when we go to the DD. Their jerky wings are a sticky and sweet wet sauce. Delicious and flavorful on the mild side. * But I’m sure they’d kick it up if you asked.
Gaetano’s Tavern on Main in Wallingford: This was a well-rounded jerk wing. Unlike the others, this had a hint of smokey bbq to it as well. Wet and sticky, sweet jerk, with a tiny sting at the end. Perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked.
Hop Haus in Southington: This is the first (and only) time that we had an orange and jerk combo. Interesting flavor profile. It wasn’t a dry rub and it wasn’t sticky. It wasn’t even really that jerky. What we tasted was more of the orange citrus and they were perfectly cooked. Different for sure. Worth a try.
Mad Greek in Southbury: These jerk wings were wet, sticky, sweet, and full of flavor. No real jerk heat, but delicious. Almost reminded me of one of the World Harbors bottled jerk sauce that I love to pour on everything.
Negril Sports Bar in Manchester: It’s not easy to find a Jamaican-owned wing spot with Jamaican cuisine, and real Jamaican jerk wings. These were wet and spicy and top-of-the-mountain good. “That’s a jerk wing,” said Wingchef Ryan Pasler. “We’ve had jerk wings where places have a little twist of their own, but THIS is true Jamaican jerk wing, better than any I have ever had.”
Notch 8 in Bethel: Prepared by classically trained chef Cailyn Sauvron, this dry jerk recipe hits your sense of smell before you even bite down. You can smell the nutmeg and the cinnamon, and get the rest of the flavor as you crunch in. Notch 8 wood fires their wings before they drop them in the fryer so they have an extra crunch. And if you’re there, try the Scotch Bonnet wings as well. While they don’t necessarily classify as jerk wings, scotch bonnets are the peppers commonly used in a traditional jerk sauce. (ie. Scotchie’s)
Royal Coachman Tavern in Riverton: Not only is this place one of the true “hidden gems” we’ve discovered on our wing journey, and not only are all seven of their Stagecoach Wing flavors incredible, but this jerk was among some of the best we encountered. A well-cooked wing with an authentic spicy jerk dry rub. “You can smell the thyme, the clove, everything that should be there in a jerk spice,” said Wingchef Ryan. “It’s a little sweet, there’s heat, salty, all the flavors that you’re looking for.”
Reid’s BBQ in Derby: These smoked jerk wings are in a class all by themselves. We’d never seen this bbq smoke method applied to jerk wings. The flavor isn’t just on the outside but penetrates through the entire wing. It’s a wet sauce with just enough heat on the back end. One of our favorites all time.
Rooster’s Chicken and Waffles (4 locations): Oh man. These sweet jerk wings come from a breaded, fried chicken so they hold in all the flavor. Like ALL the flavor. Sweet, like in the name, and a nice subtle heat that comes in while you chew. The breading creates a total flavor bomb.
TK’s American Cafe in Danbury: I’m sorry. This isn’t a true Jerk wing but this one just has to be included because it’s in my personal Hall of Fame. As one of the first “flavored wings” I ever had outside of buffalo, I’ve been loving this combination of jerk, bbq, and teriyaki for 30 years. We haven’t tried their actual jerk, but you’ll love the jerkadactyle. Even if you can’t spell it.
We know! There’s more!! Please tell us about your favorite jerk wing and where we can go get it!